- Simon Garner
Scene of the Week: The Dark Knight Rises - Batman's First Appearance
This week in our Scene of the Week feature, we again turn our attention to another impeccable Christopher Nolan-helmed moment, and it comes from The Dark Knight Rises. TDKR is a funny one, in terms of wider opinion. The vast majority of people think highly of it, but there is a fair share of not-so-sure, even dislike, out there. We at Life of Films are unashamedly large fans of Nolan’s body of work and directorial style, so naturally we’re in the former camp. The scene I have picked from TDKR is Batman’s first appearance.
The story up until this point in the film, as far as the public are concerned, is that it has been eight years since the death of Harvey Dent, and that Batman was responsible for killing him and has been in hiding ever since, and only a handful of people know that this is simply a cover up for Dent/Two Face’s murder spree and descent into madness.
With that in mind, the scene upon Batman’s return is one of mixed emotion. There’s an amazing introduction to his initial appearance, followed by a brief moment of sympathy from the viewer towards Batman. Firstly, we see the police involved in a chase through a tunnel with Bane and his henchmen, who have just robbed the stock exchange, and have taken some members of the public hostage on the back of their motorcycles in order to shield them from gunfire and facilitate their escape. As the police tail the bikes, the tunnel’s lights begin to dim sequentially in the mirror of one of the police cars. In the cruiser, we see two cops, one older, one younger. The younger asks “What’s going on with the lights?”, and the older cop ignores this question in amazement, simply saying “It can’t be!”, followed by “Boy you are in for a show tonight, son!”, and this is where we see the lights come back on, and Batman zoom past a goon’s bike, taking him out in the process. The way it is shot is fantastic; we see Batman enter the shot at speed from the left hand side of the frame, and completely wipe the thug out, before coming to a skidding stop, where he then reaches down for his EMP gun, taking out another bike engine with an accuracy like he’d never been away! Batman then continues to tail the lead two bikes, one of them being Bane, before Bane peels away, allowing Batman to draw the attention of the police while he makes his get away. Batman stays on the remaining bike, outfoxing him by taking a shortcut, removing the hostage with his grapple gun, and has the Batpod upend him. This is the moment the brief pang of sympathy comes in, and it’s brief for a reason. Batman has thwarted the chase in signature style, but we then remember the all-important cover up, and that the police actually want Batman’s head. We see choppers, patrol cars, the works, all close in on Batman and he’s seemingly trapped. It’s a sad moment because of how heroic and self-sacrificial he is from the previous instalments. But that doesn’t last long, because in true Batman style, he’s out of there in a flash, utilising the ramp of a truck as his getaway route.
This scene wouldn’t be complete without Han Zimmer’s genius all over it. Along with John Williams, Zimmer is our favourite composer, as he brings a signature style to any genre he covers, which is commendable to say the least. Throughout this scene, the score is of the utmost importance; from Batman’s return as the lights come back on, to when we see the police close in on Batman, the score plays a huge part in drawing feelings from you as a viewer, alongside what is actually happening. For me, it is of particular quality when the police close in as it heightens that aforementioned feeling of sympathy, almost serving as a punch to the stomach, that Batman is technically the enemy here, but in a perverse, selfless way. It’s gutting. But then the score equally serves to pick you right back up again, as he makes the entire police force look like fools and makes his way out with ease.
This isn’t the first scene we’ve chosen for SotW that Nolan is responsible for, and I’d imagine it won’t be the last. With so much quality coming from one man’s directorial vision and execution, it’s difficult to choose the best, but we’ll have good fun trying! Enjoy the scene below.